For the first time in 40 years, tens of thousands of junior doctors took to their picket lines on Tuesday to oppose government plans
As part of its bigger plan to run the NHS into the ground, the government is attempting to impose a new contract on all junior doctors working in England.
The junior doctors trade union, the BMA, has identified that the new contract would result in the NHS suffering a shortage of doctors due to the proposed pay cut and removal of maximum hours safeguards resulting in many junior doctors leaving the NHS due to poor pay, stress and burn-out.
'Not fair, Not Safe, Save our NHS!'
Outside Sunderland Royal Hospital two enthusiastic picketlines were set-up next to each main entrance with the junior doctors in high spirits and good voice, cheering at the large number of car-horns being sounded in support of them.
Many colourful, home-made placards were evident including; “More Hours – 30% less pay” , “Your Blood, my sweat, our tears” and an entire death certificate written out for “Sunderland” and addressed to Jeremy Hunt's office.
After the picketline, many of the junior doctors present were planning on participating in the BMA's “Meet a doctor” public engagement events being held in the city centres of Newcastle and Middlesbrough that afternoon followed by a regional public strike rally held at the iconic Grey's Monument in Newcastle at 6pm.
The picketlines, public engagement exercies and street rally are typical of the energetic, creative and seriously-organised spirit which has characterised the BMA's junior doctor's campaign thus far and indeed should serve as something of a model for all other public sector industrial disputes.
The rallies, marches and now strike have all been designed to have as big an impact as possible through maximising public support (66% of the public support the strike according to a recent survey) and clearly and consistently identifying the junior doctors campaign as part of the broader movement to save the NHS from the Tory's terminal progamme of cuts and privatisation.
There are two more strike days planned on Tuesday 26 January and on Wednesday 10 February with the latter being a “full walkout” with no emergency cover being provided.